Zaffran Kitchen

Indian food, anywhere outside India, is expensive and considered fine dining when you go to full-fledged restaurant. That is no different in Singapore, where there are probably over 100 Indian restaurants (apart from countless food court restaurants, more aptly called food stalls, sharing space with many different cuisines in a shopping mall).

Having tried number of these kinds of restaurants, we elected to go to Zaffran Kitchen in the Joo Chiat area of Singapore, which had good ratings. We usually go to non-Indian restaurants as the family likes to experiment, and when we do select Indian food, we do it with caution as the ratings on websites do not usually correspond with reality, and secondly we have a sharper eye for detail when it comes to our own food !

Zaffran Kitchen was a disappointment (at least to me). I expected a fine dining place, and indeed it was, though a bit casual given the neighbourhood (characteristic of places located not far from the beach, I would guess). We got a round table for 4, which I did not like. It was a wooden table with cheap chairs around it. I would have preferred a direct face-to-face 4-seater; we tried to persuade the waiter for a switch, but that did not happen though a neighbouring table was available for almost the entire duration of our dinner.

But never mind, that is a minor matter.

The vegetarian platter that we ordered was probably enough for two people but was priced at SGD 22, there was hardly two pieces of panneer, cauliflower, capsicum and mushroom. While it tasted all right (though blackened a bit), I believe the cost was high – the dish is surely not enough for 4 people who wish to have a common starter.

All the other dishes we ordered after the starter were just OK in quality and taste and each one of these were just enough for two people at the most. Even the rice quantity was small – probably good for one hungry person, not really shareable. The naans were small as well, and I was surprised with the prices of all the dishes.

Given the reputation and name that Zaffran seems to have built up, I wonder how that is justifiable. I did not see 5-star or even 4-star quality which I had expected. The dishes were, at best, of average quality, and I would say that the Indian Curry House in Siglap serves better North Indian food than Zaffran. The other restaurant which can give a run for the money is Kinara. The only issue seems to be that these two other restaurants are located far away from the busy cross-section of Joo Chiat Road and East Coast Road – farther down East Coast Road at Siglap.

So, it was a disappointment to have gone to Zaffran last evening, and while my family was OK with the food, they were not over the top, so we decided that it would be the last trip to Zaffran. We would try other restaurants which might have a slightly lower rating but provide better food quality and decent portions for a family to enjoy.

We were thinking why not Wine Connection last night as we were walking towards Zaffran – but we decided to stick to the pre-selected restaurant choice. Wine Connection is one of our favourites around that area.

In any case, do not believe the rating websites – of course there is no option but to try out !


Vijay Srinivasan

31st May 2015


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